Let’s look at keys to the game.
Raiders head coach Jon Gruden fired defensive coordinator Paul Guenther after another terrible defensive performance on Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts and replaced him with defensive line coach Rod Marinelli on an interim basis.
Marinelli said he isn’t changing much scheme-wise, but he is hoping his communication with the unit can result in a faster, better performance. Let’s see how it pans out. On a short week, I’m skeptical.
Depth pieces on defense play well:
The Raiders will be playing without four injured defensive starters: defensive end Clelin Ferrell, safety Johnathan Abram, cornerback Damon Arnette and linebacker Nicholas Morrow. That means backups such as defensive ends Carl Nassib, Vic Beasley and Arden Key, linebacker Cory Littleton and defensive backs Nevin Lawson and Daryl Worley all have to step up. It won’t be easy.
Need a Jacobs, Waller game:
The Raiders need a sharp showing on offense with a suffering defense. The Raiders’ offense is at its absolute best when running back Josh Jacobs and tight end Darren Waller are major parts of the attack. I expect the Raiders‘ game plan to revolve around both in this game and that’s a good thing on a night where they may have to score 30-plus points.
Don’t let Chargers’ passing game take over:
The Raiders have given up 418 yards on the ground the past two games, so expect the Chargers to try to establish a run attack. But the Chargers are a fine passing team and they tore up the Raiders on Nov. 8 (the Raiders eventually won that game 31-26). Rookie quarterback Justin Herbert threw for 326 yards and receivers Keenan Allen and Mike Williams also produced. Both Allen and Williams are questionable to play on Thursday because of injuries — but the Chargers will throw at the Raiders no matter who plays.
Watch out for Bosa:
The Chargers pass rusher missed the first Las Vegas game. Joey Bosa can a be a game wrecker and the Raiders’ offensive line has to seal him off the edge or it could be along day for quarterback Derek Carr.